Nitin Sawhney and Maziar Miri
Children do not need to wait until they become adults to make films, they can do it right away just like the youth in Palestinian refugee camps did for the film Flying Paper, says director Nitin Sawhney, whose movie is being screened at Ajyal Youth Film Festival.
Flying Paper is a documentary about children in Gaza, who are on a quest to shatter the Guinness World Record for the most kites ever flown. The director said the film was an attempt at humanising the regional conflict by looking at kite culture as a form of creative resistance.
Since 2006, Nitin co-founded a nonprofit initiative called Voices Beyond Walls to conduct digital video and storytelling workshops with children and youth in Palestinian refugee camps in the West Bank and Gaza. Flying Paper is his first feature-length documentary film.
Speaking about the workshops, he said the children were trained to make films themselves. “It gave them an opportunity to tell stories about their detention, prisons and what they went through during their war.” “In the context of our film, we wanted to tell a story that was more focused on their dreams and aspirations. Flying Paper catches the simple act of flying kites, how that can be a form of freedom and resilience, and breaking out of the occupation in ways people can only dream about.”
Sawhney said he was “so delighted” to have his film have its Middle East premiere from Doha. “It really belongs in a place like Ajyal Youth Film Festival, where the focus is on the children. It’s very important to show this film to the young kids themselves because kids will relate to this film very well.”
On the contribution of children to the filmmaking process, he revealed that the Palestinian kids in his film were also producers who played a significant role behind the scenes.
Meanwhile, The Painting Pool tells the story of a mentally-challenged couple and their fight for the right to lead a normal life and be a family.
Speaking to Gulf Times, director Maziar Miri said Iranian cinema has progressed over the decades and is booming today with new stories, concepts and ideas.
In past decades, he acknowledged that there were many tough times for Iranian cinema. But now, he said, those days were behind them.
About the power of films to change the perception of people around the world about Iran, he said: “We hope to talk with the world through our cinema in a new language of peace and friendship.”